Monday, November 20, 2023

Doing My Annual Black Friday Post Early This Year

At the risk of being too repetitive and unoriginal, I'm sick of Black Friday already and it hasn't really gotten here yet.   Except that I've been getting email ads with Black Friday in the subject since at least July.  Maybe since June. 

Yeah, I know.  "Old man yells at cloud" for all the good it's gonna do.  

What they've done, instead of making shoppers (at least, this shopper) think that some special sales are going on, is to convince us that there's no such thing as Black Friday anymore.  As I've said before, when every day is Black Friday, no day can be Black Friday - in the usual sense of a special day that kicks off the Christmas shopping season.  It has just become another way of saying "SALE" in every retail place that pushes it. 

Black Friday was supposedly called that because it was the day where businesses turned their annual ledgers from red ink to black ink, but in the last few years it seems to have morphed into something else.  It has been reported for years that the big deals aren't necessarily really deals at all (2014 study), or that some companies raise their prices in the weeks (months?) before the day so that what would have been a normal, small discount from MSRP suddenly seems like a deal.  It's being reported (2016) that more and more people are carrying their smartphone into the stores to price check things, compare price and availability at other stores, or get coupons.  I confess: I've done it and not just this time of year.  

Once there started to be a perception that good deals came on Black Friday, it was only a matter of time until it became just another way of saying “BIG SALE!”  But shoppers like to think they're getting big deals, and there are stores that put one or two items on a massive discount to get some people to line up the night before.  Maybe they can get some buzz on the news.  Of course, now that stores are opening on Thanksgiving itself, Friday seems like it loses some drawing power.  Regardless, every year there's some incident where people get violent (2016) over something stupid.  

It always pays to know what going prices are.  I've heard that generally speaking, the best time for deals is closer to Christmas, especially right before Christmas.  You'll get better prices than this week, but it's a gamble.  You're betting that the stores will be stuck with something you want and they would rather discount it than not sell it.  If they sell out first you lose.  If they don't sell out but still won't or can't cut the price, again you lose.  That said, it has worked out for me in the past.  It's sort of like calling a bluff in poker.  

Retail is a rough way to make a living. I'm sure you've heard how airline reservation systems base the seat price on the apparent interest in a flight.  If you go back and check on the price of that seat every week, the system says there must be more demand for that flight and raises the price.  What if stores could measure real time demand and adjust the price.  Say you're looking for a new tool or other gadget; what if they see someone checking the web site regularly and interpret that as several people interested in that item and raised its price?  Would you be upset or offended?  What if they dropped the price to see at what level you can't resist pushing the Glistening, Candy-like, "BUY" button?  I don't have any hard evidence that anyone does that, but it seems trivial for an online store to track interest in something.  Their biggest risk is scaring away or alienating customers.

To me the Golden Rule is the willing seller/willing buyer.  If people are happy with what they paid, regardless of whether or not it really is "the best price of the year," and the seller is happy with the price they got for it, that's definition of a fair price.  I'm sure not gonna poop in someone's Post Toasties by telling them they didn't get the best price ever. 

Jeez, I've been using this cartoon for a long time.  It says "Joe Heller 2010" in the top left corner! 


  1. Black Friday is aimed at gullible consumers addicted to stuff. Rational people eventually come to realize that they don't own stuff. The stuff owns them. These days unless I can articulate a specific need for something I generally don't buy it. When I croak the kids will have less crap to sort through.

  2. I spent 20 years in retail. It's a hard life. To this day, I hate the over-commercialization. Bah, humbug, I say!

  3. I buy my clothes about six months in advance of the season. Come March, I am going to look for winter shirts. I will get two or three for about the price of one today. The selection may not so great, but I am looking for utility not fashion.

    1. So you are saying that you are an engineer, eh?

    2. You got it, BSE metallurgy Montana Tech, 1979.

  4. There was a satire story in the old Read magazine for school kids. It was about a advertisement promoter talking to the founders of the US about his proposal for National Bullrush Month, where there would be a solid month of ads and sales extravaganzas for the month leading up to Christmas. The story ends with it being shot down then, so National Bullrush Month didn't appear until recently - and this story was written back in the late 1960's.

  5. Ya gotta wonder about the gullibility of the average consumer, and this is a very good example. It shows that these kids and young adults have not been raised properly when it comes to spending, saving, and money management in general. Failure to be brought up properly.

    My folks went through the depression (SiG, you and I are in this generation!) and taught me how to " Use it up, wear it out - make it do, or do without". Now I can't say that I slavishly follow this very good advice, but I don't usually go buying things on a whim. Usually. Hey, I'm human and not Mr. Perfect.

    At any rate, I "assume" nowadays that A Really Good Sale Price... isn't. Either they jack up the price beforehand, or the "sale price" is in line with the item sold elsewhere! Caveat Emptor, and all that.

  6. Around 2012, I took a group of foreign exchange university students 'round to a number of shops on Black Friday.
    Shopping began at midnight and continued for another ten hours or so.

    They were all so very excited, nay, they were amped! for several reasons. To experience the mad rush of American consumerism; to buy products - mostly electronics - not available in their countries though made in their countries; thinking they were getting great discounts.

    When I reminded them of what I had shown about retail pricing, et al, they were only a bit dismayed. Though they didn't get the deal they had hoped, they did now own those formerly unavailable dodads they could show off once back home. Plus the rush.

    I slept in the van. I will not participate in the boorish frenzy as commonly exhibited by daft shoppers.

    1. The last of my previous comment does not apply to the students. Save for two of twelve, all were perfectly mannered. Japan, Korea, mainland China, the one horrid Iraqi.

  7. SiG, I try to avoid the stores as much as possible, although The Ravishing Mrs. TB and Na Clann make an event of it. At best I may hit one or two stores for specific sales and come home (To be fair, the computer on which I write this was a 2014 Black Friday deal).

  8. People are @$$holes.
    I don't buy anything but groceries (except online) from now until a week after New Year's.
    When I had people for whom to do Christmas shopping, I did it on Dec. 23rd or 24th, and invariably got it all done in about one four-hour trip.
    Shopping is grazing.
    Men are about hunting and killing.